Monday, February 15, 2010

In honor of President's Day...

...I'm going to ignore the snow falling out my window and write about about my adventures this past weekend.

I never get tired of seeing the National Monuments. No, really, I never get tired of the 2.5 mile walk through Monument Valley. So I didn't bat an eye when my old roommate called to tell me she and her husband would be in town for a wedding and would love to spend a couple extra days playing tourist.

Saturday after the wedding, we got together for dinner with another former roommate and her husband. After catching up on old times, we headed out to the National Mall to start the trek in the snow-covered Tidal Basin. The wind blasted our faces as we reached the high-point of the grounds at the Washington Monument, so we didn't stick around very long. The WWII Memorial offered a bit of shelter as it is set into the ground, but as we were the only people there, it also offered a serene place to reflect on the sacrifice made by our nation in days past.

That's also when things turned a little dicy. After someone mentioned they needed to go to the bathroom, we all mysteriously needed to go to the bathroom. In the middle of the Tidal Basin. At 7:30 p.m. Surrounded by ice and snow. Than someone (okay, maybe it was me) got the bright idea to cut across the snow and see if the public restrooms were magically left open for poor souls like ourselves. After cutting a path through the knee-high drifts, we found no relief. So we decided to cut out the FDR and Jefferson Memorials, but we could control ourselves until we had the chance to see the Lincoln Monument and the Vietnam and Korean War Memorials. And the DC War Memorial to WWI hadn't been dug out yet, so we admired that from afar.

This was the first time I have ever seen the Reflecting Pool frozen solid. Usually it is kind of gross from the stagnant water and geese. It didn't offer much of a reflection, but no one was going to risk a Forrest Gump moment by testing how thick the ice really was. The Korean Memorial was kind of cool in the snow and quiet. The sky was actually really clear, and we could see all the photos etched into the wall and read all the inscriptions along the path. Reading the words "Freedom Is Not Free" was rather moving and a good reminder of the efforts so many people around the world make to ensure others have the same opportunities we have.

We finally made it to the Lincoln Monument to find...IT WAS STILL OPEN! Bathrooms and running water and heat. I have never been so happy in all my life. Of course we walked up the marble steps to greet the 16th present and take about 50 million picture (none on my camera, sorry). By then we were warm enough to spend a decent amount of time at the Vietnam Wall, but it was getting colder by the minute, so we decided to still skip FRD and Jefferson and instead walk by the Ellipse and White House.

Yesterday I was a little better prepared and wore fuzzy socks and long underwear. Which ended up serving me well while walking around Old Town Alexandria, but proved a bit of an annoyance in the Air and Space Museum. It was kind of cool to see the A&S Museum with Brenda and Anthony because they were a lot more interested in Air while I usually prefer to spend my time in Space. It's always cool to see things from a new perspective.

The sidewalks ended up proving to be a bit of an ice-slick, so we took my car for a spin around the city rather than trying to walk it. We drove the the FBI Headquarters, Ford's Theater, Petersen House (where Lincoln died), the Capital Building, the Supreme Court Building, the Library of Congress and countless administrative buildings.

Before heading back to my place for dinner, we stopped off at the Jefferson Memorial. What a beautiful place to watch the sunset. There was also a park ranger giving a tour there, so we had the chance to talk to him about the monuments and Jefferson's life. He was extremely knowledgeable, and you could tell he loves his job. I learned a lot from him and hope he's around the next time I go there.

How cool is it that I got to spend President's Day Weekend walking in the steps of all our past presidents? I got to learn more about their lives and the city that runs our nation. Sure, it might have been cold and wet, but it was well worth it. And if you ever want to play tourist with me, I'm always up for having a new adventure.

1 comment:

  1. That does sound like pretty much the perfect President's Day activity, despite the snow and cold. So ironic that it's winter out there and spring out here. Crazy weather. :) I'm glad you got to hang out with Brenda and Anthony too. I'm sure that was an enjoyable experience. I'll talk to you soon!